Shady Lake, Queens

The corner of Corona Avenue and 108th Street has the most famous Italian Ice vendor in the city. Most of its customers do not know that a century ago there was a pond on this location used primarily for ice harvesting.

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Looking at a 1902 atlas from the New York Public Library, we see Corona Avenue running past this pond and Central Avenue (present-day 108th street) ending at the pond. As a reference, the triangular block later designated as Moore Park has been marked. Continue reading

Linden Park, Queens

Although it is only 3.08 acres in size, a park in the Corona neighborhood of Queens has the distinction of being one of a few in the city that predates Central Park. Known officially since 2005 as Park of the Americas, it opened to the public in 1854 as Linden Park, sharing its name with a pond that lay in its center.


Where park goers once ice skated and admired the fish, today’s youths play ball in view of Public School 16. Continue reading

Water Map for the Outer Boroughs

In 1874, a map like none other was unfurled before city planners by Col. Egbert Ludovicus Viele. Designed in a time when the city was rapidly expanding north thanks to advances in public transportation, Viele captured for posterity the locations of the island’s springs, brooks, creeks, and swamps, where land meets landfill, tracing former shorelines and hilltops. To this day, this map is used by structural engineers in Manhattan, who check it for buried streams when constructing buildings, tunnels and utility lines.

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With 82 of the 101 hidden city streams in my book located outside of Manhattan, what map did I use to find these waterways? Continue reading